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Have you ever wondered what the difference is between one engine oil and another? Have you wondered whether you're using the right oil? It is protecting your engine enough from the type of riding you do? Well, fret no more because we'l guide you through all you need to know about engine oils so you can feel confident with your next purchase.

Firstly the 3 main oil types are mineral, mineral oils with an ester base (semi-synthetic) and full synthetic oils. 

What oil you choose will depend on numerous factors like, your type of riding (commuting, racing, ride days and weekend blasts etc.), engine configuration (V-Twin, In-Line 4, Single etc), age of the engine (air cooled or water cooled) and general wear & tear the engine has been exposed too.

Mineral motorcycle oils 

Mineral oils offer the lowest levels of protection but are also suitable for many bikes if the oil is being changed regularly. They can also be used as a 'running oil' oil in some rebuilt engines (because you do get engine wear with mineral oils, this gives the engine parts a chance to 'bed' in together).

Mineral oils are basic spec oils that are made from natural oils. They are generally suitable for commuting, touring bikes and some older bikes. They are not normally suitable for some modern bikes that require a higher oil spec (especially high temperature, small oil sump bikes) or for most racing and competition use or where the engine oil service/change periods might be exceeded (so if not changing the oil every 4000-6000kms you will be better off using a better quality oil). Mineral oils are often used to blend most motorcycle workshop oils.

Example of this oil is Bel Ray EXL Motul 3000 Shell AX5

Semi- synthetic motorcycle oils

Semi synthetic motorbike oils are usually blended from Group 3 base oils (group 3 is a lower spec base oil which is made by using a process called 'hydro cracking' to convert natural oil into suitable base oils). Some better quality semi synthetic oils can contain some group 1 base oils (Group 1 base oils are completely man made, synthetic base oils made from various blends of chemicals).

Semi synthetic oils offer medium levels of protection for the engine and are suitable for use in nearly all road going bikes including tourers, commuters, some off road bikes and 'weekend thrashers'.

Lower spec semi synthetic oils aren't really suitable for use in racing and competition bikes. However, some higher spec semi synthetic oils can be used in racing bikes.

Examples of this oil are Bel Ray EXP Motul 5100 Motorex Formula Shell AX7

Fully synthetic motorcycle oils

Fully synthetic oils are blended using Group 1 base oils (which are man made, synthetic bases blended from various chemicals). Fully synthetic oils are blended with various different additive packs to obtain the required viscosity (e.g. 10w40) and characteristics.

A 'proper' fully synthetic oil gives the best levels of protection for the engine and there should be no noticeable wear in the engine if a full synthetic oil is used.

Fully synthetic oils are suitable for use in nearly all road going, track and off road motorcycles and scooters and can be used in many moder bikes that run at high operating temperatures whilst having small oil sumps. Fully synthetic oils are also suitable for racing and competition use because of the low drag blend (meaning less friction in the engine) and that they offer the best levels of engine protection, cleanliness and anti corrosion.

Because fully synthetic oils are very good at dealing with heat, they are good for engines that run very hot and engines that don;t have very cooling systems (like many scooter engines).

Examples of this oil are Bel Ray EXS Motul 7100 Motorex Crosspower Shell Ultra